Landscape shifting quickly as region mulls rules for Uber
Published Wednesday, February 3, 2016 4:48PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 3, 2016 6:29PM EST
It’s been more than six months since Uber launched in Waterloo Region – and as of this writing, driving a vehicle locally for it or any other ridesharer remains illegal.
The region’s current taxicab bylaw regulates all vehicle-for-hire services, and issues licences for people to operate those services.
Locally and around the world, taxi drivers have lobbied against Uber’s arrival, raising concerns about safety, insurance and other issues around unregulated ridesharing.
Regional clerk Kris Fletcher says the region has received “close to 100 complaints” about Uber or other ridesharers since last fall.
“We continue to investigate each and every complaint as we receive them,” she said in an interview.
Six people have been charged for violating the region’s taxi bylaw in that timespan, Fletcher said.
In the meantime, regional officials continue to work on a new bylaw to cover taxis, Uber and anyone else who might want to offer rides in exchange for money.
One thing being taken into account is Monday’s announcement that Ontario’s insurance regulator had approved coverage for drivers with Uber and similar services.
Aviva Canada is offering the first such policy anywhere in the country, as an add-on to insurance coverage for drivers who spent up to 20 hours a week on ridesharing.
“We’re not saying Uber is better than taxis or vice-versa,” Aviva Canada spokesperson Glenn Cooper told CTV News.
“All we’re doing is responding to a need in the market.”
Fletcher says Aviva’s decision is something that will be considered as part of the region’s review.
“We’ve looked at the announcement, and we have some questions that we’re currently formulating about the current insurance proposal,” she said.
Also to be considered is the experience in Edmonton, which recently passed a bylaw allowing companies like Uber to operate legally.
A report on the issue is expected to come before regional council in about one month’s time, with public meetings taking place in late March or early April.
With files from The Canadian Press